When both hotel operators and travelers think about the guest stay experience, the subject of laundry services is likely low on the list of items that come to mind. At the same time, few will disagree that the presence of laundry facilities represents a critical service ensuring a clean, sanitary and comfortable hotel environment.
Yet in addition to washing guestroom bed sheets or restaurant tablecloths, a hotelier can also find that many guests themselves have their own personal laundry needs that they may turn to a property for assistance. A guest may not have packed enough clothes to cover their length of stay, while another may need to remove a stain from a dress shirt prior to a business meeting.
These are just a few examples of how a hotel’s laundry service is utilized, but importantly demonstrate how the amenity can serve as both an expense and a source of income. Yet by adopting a strategy able to reduce operational costs while increasing revenue opportunities, hoteliers will find that their laundry offerings can do much to boost business bottom lines.
1. Adopting Greener Approaches Also Minimizes Laundry Costs
More hotels are implementing sustainability efforts as guests increasingly expect the industry to take environmental responsibilities seriously, and a property’s laundry services are certainly no exception. Yet while these initiatives are mostly adopted to reduce ecological footprints, they also provide substantial cost savings that can be viewed in a property’s financial statements:
Cutting Down on Overall Laundry Use
Whether a large hotel or small, the sheer amount of laundry that gets washed each day can easily lead to utility bills spiraling out of control and a top-heavy loss statement. This ultimately results in high operational expenses eating into a hotel’s bottom line and the stalling of reaching revenue management goals.
Hoteliers can drastically bring down such impacts on their P&L statements by simply washing less, but importantly without reducing property cleanliness. One commonly used example is only washing guestroom towels when a guest has placed them on the floor, indicating the use and the need to re-wash. This alone can significantly lower both water and energy consumption.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), hoteliers who have adopted a guestroom towel reuse program have on average cut down on water and energy use as well as related labor costs by 17 percent. This inevitably translates into less incoming revenue being consumed by a hotel’s daily operating costs.
Reducing Laundry Dryer Energy Use
Another eco-friendly approach to laundry that also limits the impact of expenses on hotel income statements is to dry items more efficiently. Hotels may be tempted to purchase dryers intended for consumer homes due to their lower cost, but these are renowned for high energy use that will ultimately lead to hoteliers increasing their operational costs over the long term.
A much better approach is to adopt commercial-grade dryers that can dry more using less energy consumption. These energy-efficient dryers are credited with reducing laundry electricity use by as much as 40 percent, and can prove essential to transforming a hotel’s laundry services into a source of profit gain instead of loss.
Savings Hotels can Expect From Efficient Laundry Operations
Several hotel properties and chains have already experienced impressive revenue savings by reducing laundry water and energy use. For the Hilton LA/Universal City for example, such practices have resulted in an annual savings of $50,000 per year for just one machine.
2. Provide Your Guests With a First-rate Laundry Experience
With their costs under control, hoteliers should next focus on ways to increase revenue which ultimately involves boosting guest use. The first thing a hotel should do is to ensure that their laundry room services reflect a high standard that meets guest expectations.
Installing commercial-grade washers and dryers will provide guests with the ease of use and reliability they seek to clean their various items with confidence. Notably for the improved performance of hotel balance sheets, such equipment routinely comes with enhanced energy-saving capabilities, while offering payment options that are as easy as swiping a credit card.
3. Create a Welcoming Laundry Room Environment
To maximize laundry room use, hoteliers must take an in-depth look at how their services are made available from a guest’s perspective. For example, can guests easily find an available washer/dryer or are they often struggling with high-usage volumes? Hotels should ensure they have enough units to service guests even during busy times to avoid potential frustration.
A laundry room should also provide amenities that make guests comfortable and more willing to visit the facility. This can include simply providing an area to sit, along with perhaps a TV and access to snacks/drinks. The goal is ultimately to make the idea of having to wait for laundry seems like less of a hassle or a boredom-inducing experience.
The Dorchester Collection is one hospitality organization that has experienced beneficial results since revising the laundry services at its luxury hotels. Since working to improve its various laundry offerings in line with guest standards, the brand has been able to cut complaints down from a high of 55 for one month to just five during a subsequent month.
4. Offer Additional Services to Address a Range of Guest Laundry Needs
Making hotel laundry an easy experience that entices guests also means providing ready access to several items or services that a guest may need to use in addition to washers and dryers. However, each additional offering provided creates an opportunity to further increase a laundry room’s revenue streams with just the charging of a nominal fee.
One easy example of how a hotelier can add extra income-generating services is to simply provide guests with options to purchase laundry detergent and softener when visiting the laundry room. Laundry supplies are typically not something that travelers think of packing, so providing convenient and ready access to such supplies is sure to boost both use and revenue.
When looking for laundry-related services to add, hoteliers have several other potential options at their disposal thanks to a diverse range of laundry needs that any one guest may encounter. Perhaps a guest wishes to use dry cleaning services for clothes with stubborn stains. Another may require rushed laundry services in order to prepare for an upcoming business meeting.
Other guests may wish to avoid the hassle of doing laundry themselves altogether, and may prefer to pay an additional fee for dirty items to be collected from their rooms, washed, and then returned. Each of these examples goes to demonstrate that a laundry service’s ability to increase hotel business profits can be substantial and worthy of investment.
5. Maximize Laundry Revenue Growth With Effective Upselling
Like any other service offering within the hospitality market, laundry room revenue performance can only begin to improve if guests are aware of the service and can readily perceive its value. To be financially successful, this means that a hotel business should extend its upselling efforts and strategies to also include laundry offerings.
As many hoteliers know, upselling to guests is most successful following the booking period when travel plans are still being formulated. While trying to upsell any and everything a hotel offers, including laundry, may seem impractical given industry worker shortages, advanced upselling solutions can now automatically perform the hard work while maximizing results.
Significantly, these platforms with the use of AI can leverage mass data to identify which guests are more inclined toward using a particular service, and can target them with the appropriate promotional messaging to increase the likelihood of a sales conversion.
For a hotel’s laundry service offerings, an upselling solution can, for example, determine if a guest is traveling with children or as part of a group- increasing the likelihood of needing to use a property’s laundry facilities. Such guests may be interested to hear about affordable laundry service options that can ensure clean clothing for the duration of their stay.
Business travelers receiving a promotion to use a hotel’s dry cleaning services may decide to purchase the offering as it will ensure a professional appearance without having to travel with additional luggage in case a clothing item becomes stained.
With an effective and proactive upselling strategy in place for their laundry service offerings and as demonstrated above, hoteliers can simultaneously meet their commitment to addressing guest needs and expectations while creating a high-value revenue stream that only enhances hotel business growth.
Maína is the Head of Business Development Americas at UpStay. She graduated in Hotel Management and in German language and completed an MBA in Digital Marketing and E-commerce. She is a professional from the hospitality industry with experience as Distribution Director of a Brazilian group of 30 hotels and the Americas Director of an international Sales & Marketing representation company.
Maína considers herself an excellent communicator. She is a native speaker of Portuguese and speaks 4 other languages: English, Spanish, French, and German.